Variety vs Diversity

Forgive me while I be pedantic about language. But language matters. I have heard many people say that language evolves and while that can be true, it can also cause problems. I know that words like “cleave” have opposite meanings but can usually be figured out from context, but some things cannot be deciphered from context. “She was literally jumping for joy” could mean that someone was excitedly jumping up and down. Or it might mean that the person was just really excited but not actually jumping. Because literally can now mean figuratively.

Language matters. “Different” doesn’t mean “inferior”. Discrimination is not a bad thing. At least not according to the definition. It essentially means to “perceive a difference” or even “to use good judgment”.

But what about words like diversity and variety? We associate variety with flavors of donuts or colors, and diversity with people and opinions, but what do they actually mean?

The dictionary definition of “variety” is “the quality or state of having different forms or types.”

The dictionary definition of “diversity” is “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements.”

They don’t sound too different. But I like the definition of variety better. Different forms and types sounds more unifying, than different elements. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with different elements.

But how does the Lord use “diversity” and “variety” ? His definition can be found in Conjugial Love 324:

“By diversity we mean the opposite to this variety, which is found in hell. For there each and all are diametrically opposite to those in heaven, and hell is held together among them as one by the variety among them entirely opposed to the variety in the heavens, thus by perpetual diversity. Hence it is evident what is intended under infinite variety, and what under infinite, diversity. The like is true of marriages: there is infinite variety with those in true marital love, and infinite variety with those in scortatory love; and thence there is infinite diversity between the latter and the former. The conclusion follows that the variety and diversity in marriages of whatever class and species, whether of young man and maiden, or of young man and widow, or of widower and maiden, or of widower and widow, exceed all number. Who can count infinity?”

I would submit that the Lord’s definitions are the ones we should be trying for, because His definitions support the idea of unity and bringing together good and truth, whereas diversity has the edge of accepting things that are against the Lord’s order. And trying to include contrary things together with orderly things. That is not the inclusion we are encouraged toward. We are told to delight in all the various ways that the Lord’s goodness and truth manifest, not in things that are contrary to His teachings just for the sake of inclusion.

We are supposed to love our neighbor, and that means recognizing the infinite variety in the Lord’s creation. Loving the neighbor means looking for the good and truth in other people and loving that. You can disagree with someone or you can agree with them, but we don’t love someone because they agree with us, we love them because they have the Lord in them, and that can look different in every single person we meet.

About Alison Cole

Alison Cole likes to describe herself as “a freelance useful person”. There are all kinds of people and jobs out there, but she likes the freedom to drop everything when someone is in need and go off on adventures to help out with new babies or anything, especially when it's supporting marriages and family! When Alison is not off nannying, she likes to occupy her time with drawing, painting and writing!

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